RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has announced her retirement and will step down from the top job next month.
In a statement, Lucki said she had made a “personal decision” to leave the post.
“This was not an easy decision as I love the RCMP and have loved being the 24th commissioner. I am so incredibly proud to have had the opportunity to lead this historic organization and witness first hand the tremendous work being done each and every day by all employees from coast to coast to coast and internationally,” she said.
Lucki, who was sworn in on April 16, 2018, said the national force has made “some great progress” in meeting the expectations of Canadians, communities and policing partners.
Her last day in the job will be March 17.
It has been been a challenging year for the outgoing commissioner, who has been pursued by allegations of political interference and mixed reviews of her performances in front of public inquiries and commissions.
She ended 2022 facing calls for her resignation from multiple sources — including the Opposition Conservatives and a provincial justice minister.
Lucki’s response to the federal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act in response to convoy protests has come under attack — and was cited by Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro as a reason to fire her.
“She failed to inform the federal cabinet of all law enforcement options available prior to the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act,” Shandro said in a November statement.
Lucki’s announcement comes just days ahead of the anticipated release of a report from Justice Paul Rouleau on the commission of inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act.
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Lucki insisted she has “accomplished a lot” with the senior executive team and RCMP employees, including modernizing the force and addressing internal challenges.
“I’m so proud of the steps we’ve taken to modernize – to increase accountability, address systemic racism, ensure a safe and equitable workplace and advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” she said in the statement.
“I leave knowing I did my best and take comfort that the RCMP is well placed to shine in its 150th year.”
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino thanked Lucki for her years of service.
“From training new recruits at depot to becoming the Mounties’ first woman commissioner, she has dedicated her life to keeping Canadians safe,” he tweeted. “Commissioner Lucki has led the force for nearly five years, navigating through the pandemic and beyond. I want to thank her for her partnership and dedication.”
Mendicino said the government will now begin the process of appointing the next commissioner.
Conservative MP Glen Motz said he attended courses with Lucki during his policing days.
“I think she … was well-intended and unfortunately became probably overly yanked around by Public Safety, by the minister and by this government. And that’s unfortunate,” he said. “You know, I wish her well in retirement and I thank her for her service.”
NDP public safety critic Peter Julian wished Lucki a happy retirement but said issues of systemic racism and a lack of accountability were not adequately addressed during her tenure.
“We’re certainly hoping that the federal government takes care to ensure that the next commissioner deals with these issues and that the RCMP finally starts finding solutions to these problems,” he said.
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Brian Sauvé, head of the National Police Federation, said he enjoyed a “constructive and productive working relationship” with Lucki.
“Despite the various challenges and public scrutiny that come with being a leader, Commissioner Lucki’s commitment to public safety, to the communities she served over the course of her career, and to fostering a modern and constructive approach to labour relations … is a testament to her dedication and professionalism,” Sauvé said in a media statement.
Lucki faced some criticism in 2020 when she told certain media outlets she was “struggling” to define the term when asked if there was systemic racism in the RCMP. She later said she believes systemic racism exists in the force.
When Lucki was appointed in 2018, she vowed to rid the force of a toxic workplace culture, but she warned that it would take some time. At the time, she said an unhealthy culture has been deeply ingrained in the RCMP over decades and changing attitudes for the better will require patience.
She took the helm after her predecessor Bob Paulson delivered a historic apology to female officers and civilian members as part of a settlement in two class-action lawsuits for harassment and sexual abuse.
In her statement, Lucki cites a website outlining the key areas where the RCMP is focusing its efforts to change and modernize:
- Ensuring a safe, equitable workplace to prevent workplace harassment and discrimination.
- Addressing systemic racism that affects employees and diverse communities served by the RCMP.
- Advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples by building trust and respect and acknowledging past harms.
- Supporting modern policing with evolving tools, techniques and technology.
- Improving accountability, transparency and conduct of employees; ensuring consequences are “meaningful and rehabilitative.”